by Michael Smith
Czech Republic: Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Džamila Stehlíková visited Litvínov, the north Bohemian town that recently witnessed two riots of right-wing radicals protesting against the local Romani community.
At the meeting with councilors and representatives of Janov inhabitants, Minister Stehlíková promised help in the near future. She said she would propose the cabinet to include Janov in the list of excluded localities that are entitled to get additional funding for crime prevention and social street workers.
"I apologized to the local people because two years ago I promised Janov would be the number one on the list of the excluded localities that are helped by the “Agency for social inclusion of Romany”. I see it has not happened and I admit it is a mistake," said Stehlíková to journalists. "I want to correct that," she added.
The atmosphere in Janov is currently extremely tense. The locals have been long complaining about the Roma community. Their voices of concern being unheard, they joined the ranks of the extremists on the ominous day of November 17.
But the Czechs in general all complain about the Romanies, whether recent arrivals or not. This has been borne out by studies where the majority of Czechs say that they would not want to have Gypsies as neighbors and that they'd rather have vermin (according to what has been said) than Roma living next to them and they would not want their children to go to the same school as Gypsy children.
The latter is not something that is only happening in the Czech Republic, obviously. It also is the same in Britain even where locals often have a problem, in their minds, with their children and children of the Romani community, being in the same school. Parents have known to have taken their children out of schools here when Gypsy children arrived in those schools.
The recent wave of Romany moving in Janov come allegedly from eastern Slovakia.
"The people that have come to Janov in the past few years are extremely socially deprived. They have entirely different values than the Romani that came to Janov four years ago," Miroslav Brož of the People in Need foundation said.
They are often in big debts, added Brož, they are unemployable owing to a low qualification, frustrated, deprived and aggressive.
So what went wrong? A few years ago, the Litvínov town hall sold flats to real estates that used them for moving in people from lucrative areas. These were mostly Romany who were often unemployed and incapable to pay rent.
"We used to live here quite peacefully with the first Roma people who came here a long time ago. But with the new ones, there are constantly some problems," says a former inhabitant of Janov.
Well, here we have it again. It is obviously the Gypsies that are at fault, as always. At least as far as the locals and the majority non-Gypsies, including the governments, are concerned.
Who, one can but wonder is going to get the funds the minister promised and what are those funds are going to be used for.
The way I perceive it is that the Czech Republic is doing its utmost to get the Romani to leave the country and many of those from Janov have already indicated that they may move to the West, to other EU countries.
Call me a cynic but I have a very strange feeling about all of this. Is this all a concerted effort to cause problems for the Rom community all over the EU in order for the authorities then to have a reason to act against the Rom in a manner similar to what has been done and proposed in Italy and elsewhere? One can but wonder, methinks.
© M Smith (Veshengro), November 2008